“My amendment to the Pae Ora Bill to create a Rural Health Strategy has been adopted by the Government, signalling a renewed focus on the health needs for Kiwis who live rurally or remotely,” says ACT’s Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“There are serious flaws with Labour’s health reforms that ACT has relentlessly challenged. One of them was the lack of recognition for rural New Zealand, and we’re glad to see the Government see sense and support my proposal to develop a comprehensive Rural Health Strategy addressing the needs of the 750,000 New Zealanders who live rurally or remotely.

“Three weeks ago in Parliament the Health Minister was adamant that there was no need for a Rural Health Strategy when I questioned him on it. I’m glad that Labour has since woken up and realised that rural New Zealanders were being overlooked and forgotten.

“The health reforms have a Hauora Maōri Strategy, Pacific Health Strategy, Disability Strategy, and a Women’s Strategy, thanks to ACT there is now going to be a Rural Health strategy.

“I now challenge the other parties to support my other two amendments, to develop a Medicines Strategy, and to abolish the Māori Health Authority.

“Rural New Zealand needed real change, and this has potential to be a gamechanger for rural health services. We’re glad other parties have listened and we’re proud that rural New Zealand will finally get the health focus it deserves.”

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Brooke van Velden